Loved and Lost

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"He asked you?" I nodded as Peyton put the last bag in my car. "What did you say."

"Nothing. I was stuck. He told me to take my time and give him an answer when I'm ready to give him an answer."

"You're never speechless." I watched as she leaned on the trunk arms crossing. "You want to say yes, don't you." I didn't break my eye contact with her. Peyton is the one person I can never lie to. She knows me better than I know myself. How can I lie or not even face the truth when she saw it for me. "So what stopping you?"

"My dad could hire someone. Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't already found me. If I say yes, and he finds me it's Ryder who's then in danger. I'm also still not technically eighteen. Bri is eighteen, not Phoebe." I watched as Peyton closed to door to my trunk and started walking back inside where Dominick was getting the last of their things. "I can't risk Ryder getting hurt. I love him too much."

"But living in fear of your father finding you will only make him win. Get hitched and I'll be right there for you. When you're ready to take back your name and be Phoebe again I'll be right there for you too."

"I will too." Dominick walked over. "I'm not fully sure what we're talking about but I'm here for you." Peyton and I both laughed before she kissed his cheek.

"Come one or you're going to be late to the airport." I left the room first going back out to the car. Peyton took her seat next to me while Dominick occupied the back seat.

We just enjoyed the last bit of time together as I drove them to the airport. Talking about the next time we'd see them and what we could do. Of course this time it would be a while but she ends filming a lot sooner than I normally would have on my show. Though by that time spring would be coming around and we'd be able to more than sit in a cabin. If possible we'll go out of state to do something.

I dropped them off in their hats and sunglasses hoping no one would recognize them and said my goodbyes. Watching them walk away I stood for a moment. Peyton is always right. If I can't let myself be happy my father wins. There's no telling when or if he'll ever be able to find me. Why let my fear get in the way of my happiness. Since the beginning, she's been there to protect me leading people on like she really has no clue.

I can be happy as long as I let myself be.

I jumped back into my car and drove off headed back home. Instead of listening to my head, I start to listen to my heart. Since I arrived I don't think I would have lasted for as long as I have if it wasn't for him. So understanding, and sweet. Somehow knows all the right things to say at the right times. Knows me more than I know myself sometimes. Despite being so young I feel it in my heart. The same thing my mother described when she talked about how she fell in love with my father. Even though he's a completely different man now, he love my mother and my mother loved him.

How can I say no to the man I love, who's building me a house, and who stands by me even when I can't reveal my true name. How can I not marry that man?

I pulled on the empty land where Ryder and his father started pouring the foundation since the plumbing was all put in place. He noticed the car and stood taking off his gloves. I ran up to him

"Hey, I thought you had to go to work."

"I do, but I'm just going to be late because I have to say this," I took his hand that wasn't holding gloves. "I didn't give you an answer right away because, well Peyton help me realize, I'm afraid that my father will show up and ruin everything. That he'll find me and drag me back or worse hurt you. Until she made me realize that by not saying what I want to he's still winning. I don't want that. I want my life with you."

"Are you saying-"

"Yes. Ryder yes. I want to marry you." He stood frozen for a moment before just picking me up and spinning me around as his lips stayed pressed to mine. After a but he finally set me down and pulled away.

"I love you more than anything. You know that right." I put my hand on his cold face. I rubbed my thumb on his cheek only for him to press into it.

"I do. Just like I love you." I kissed him one last time. "Now I do have to go to work but I will see you at home tonight." I started to turn away but he pulled me back.

"Wait-" He used his free hand to dig around his pocket. He pulled out the black box the ring sat in before and opened it. "If you're going to work, I don't want no creepy tourist trying to ask you out. Make sure they know you're taken." he slipped the chilled ring on my finger. A perfect fit and I just stared at it hoping that none of it was fake. "Perfect." A kiss on the cheek before he turned away walking back to his father who stood with a smile. I waved goodbye and returned to my car where I head to work awaiting the party Frankie is sure to throw once she finds out the news. Then the party his mother will throw when she finds out.

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